Wednesday, June 19, 2019

New York Times: A Hit Maker's Life and Lyrics


Nile Rodgers's new memoir, “Le Freak,” recounts his days as a successful record producer and musician
Photo Credit: Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

The venerable musician and record producer Nile Rodgers, wearing a bandanna tied around his dreadlocks, fade-out sunglasses and a charcoal-gray pinstripe jacket, arrived at Cafe Luxembourg right on schedule one morning last week.

The original idea was to have breakfast and then walk around the Upper West Side, revisiting landmarks represented in his new memoir, “Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny” (Spiegel & Grau). We could have started at the former site of Ungano’s, next door on West 70th Street, where Mr. Rodgers played guitar in 1970 with a jazz-rock band called New World Rising. He was a teenager then, organizing for the Black Panthers and unofficially attending Stuyvesant High School. (He wasn’t enrolled, he explained; he just sat in on classes with teachers he found interesting.)

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New York Times: Mr. Rodgers's Neighborhood

By Nile Rodgers - Photos: Nile Rodgers Productions

Mr. Rodgers's Neighborhood


IN THE EARLY YEARS The author at 15. "In L.A., the day I met Timothy Leary," he says.

It took me a long time to realize that the things my parents did were not exactly normal. I was about 7 years old, and it was the tail end of the 1950s, when it started to dawn on me that they were . . . well, let's just say they were different. For instance: my friends and I got shots when we went to the doctor and we hated them. But my parents stabbed themselves with needles almost every day, and seemed to enjoy it. Weird.

Most of my friends' parents sounded like the adults in school or on TV when they talked. People understood them. My parents, on the other hand, had their own language, laced with a flowery slang that I picked up the same way the Puerto Rican kids could speak English at school and Spanish at home with their abuelas.

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